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Pfizer Reports Second Data Breach In Two Months




Pfizer Reports Second Data Breach In Two Months
Pfizer Reports Second Data Breach In Two Months



http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID 1800113 

By Sharon Gaudin
InformationWeek
August 14, 2007

For the second time in two months, a security breach at pharmaceutical 
giant Pfizer has put the personally identifying information on current 
and former employees at risk.

The company, which is the world's largest drugmaker, alerted Connecticut 
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of the May theft of two company 
laptops containing personal information of 950 people. The earlier 
security breach exposed information on 17,000 people.

In a letter to Pfizer employees, Lisa M. Goldman, out of Pfizer's 
privacy office, said two password-protected laptops owned by consulting 
firm Axia were stolen out of a car in Boston. The information contained 
employee names and Social Security numbers.

Letters about the data breach were posted online by TheDay.com. Pfizer 
could not be reached for comment.

Bernard Nash, a lawyer representing Pfizer, sent a letter to the state 
attorney general on July 20, notifying him of the data breach. He said 
the 950 people involved are health care professionals who were or were 
considering providing the company with contract services. He also noted 
that additional information, such as home addresses, cell phone numbers, 
and e-mail addresses, also were compromised.

"All data security incidents are unfortunate, and Pfizer and Axia are 
committed to maintaining the confidentiality and security of data," said 
Nash in the letter. "Pfizer is working with Axia to improve data 
security protections and will apply the lessons learned from this 
incident to its work with other contractors and its own employees, as 
well."

Blumenthal said in his own letter back to Nash that he has concerns 
about the amount of time it took Pfizer to notify people about the 
breach.

"Given the speed of communications and the possibility that credit card 
fraud and identity theft can arise from breaches of personally 
identifying information, time is of the essence when notifying 
consumers," he added. "The sooner consumers are notified that their 
personally identifying information is at risk, the sooner they can 
respond and prevent further harm."

Last month, Forbes.com reported that a former Pfizer employee who was 
among the 17,000 workers who had their personal information posted 
online is suing Pfizer. The suit asks for long-term identity theft 
insurance and a fund to pay any damages for all 17,000 people.

Pfizer reported that this spring identifying information on the 17,000 
had been accidentally posted online.


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